This is a speech I made at the Eglinton-Yonge Toastmasters
which expands on the premise of the original Podcast
Just for Show
My premise here is that the elaborate preparations for a Show event which
allow the contestant to show themselves at their very best can lead to
Speaking first of African Violets where growing for Show does not necessarily
produce the best product.
If you'd ever been to an African Violet Show you would remember glorious
plants on display with their blue and red ribbons and rosettes for Best
in Class or Best in Show. Often these plants are for sale, after the judging,
near the end of the Show. The temptation is here to buy these marvelous
plants. My advice is "Don't" and soon I'll tell you why.
First, another example on the topic. Bodybuilding Competitions which you
may have seen in the news or on television Sports channels are where muscled
and well-proportioned men and women, their bodies gleaming with oil, are
posing and flexing. They seem to be the epitome of health and fitness.
Wrong! Their perfection has been forced by an extreme diet and overexertion.
They are dehydrated, since this is the state in which the delineation
of musculature is most pronounced. They are least healthy when ready to
compete. Like bulbs indoors, anticipating Spring they too have been forced
to grow unnaturally.
Back to those African Violet Show plants, whose growth has also been forced.
These plants have been subjected to a rigorous regimen of fertilizer,
light, water and the prior plucking of all blooms. They are poised for
the magic date when they are ready for the Show. These plants are as beautiful
as they will ever be but their beauty is fleeting. All preparations are
aimed at that magical Show date.
Producing blooms takes a lot of plant energy. This Show violet has been
trying to bloom with increasing effort. The plant has been thwarted so
that it will produce its best blooms for that magical Spring Show. The
special Countdown-to-Show clock begins ticking until they are finally
allowed to bloom. They will never be this perfect again. You can almost
fancy a sigh of relief as the plant, finally, wins its blue ribbon and
can relax and just grow normally again.
You may buy the plant and take it home. Assuming you have not made the
usual beginner's mistake of killing the plant by over-watering, the plant
lives. Not having a plant light stand, perhaps you place it on your windowsill.
Within a week or so its glorious head of blooms wither and die. When next
it blooms the flowers are fewer, smaller and not the same brilliant hue
as they were previously. The changes in light and temperature take effect.
Leaves, which had formed a geometrically perfect circle around the plant,
grow in less symmetrical profusion.
Less than perfect blooms and leaves are completely natural. You can still
enjoy the plant in its natural state, expecting the plant to be always
perfect is unnatural.
Like the bodybuilder during competition, your plant has excelled and,
having done so, deserves a well-earned rest.
There are other Just for Show examples such as intensive preparation
for a Final Exam at school. All your efforts in this regard can get you
a good mark. You are at your best in your knowledge of the subject. This
knowledge is not part of your daily life and, over time, the facts fade
from memory and eventually you may not even remember the name of the class.
Any sport that requires energetic preparation for the Final Match, again
sees success to some degree. Stop training and that excellent form will
become just a memory.
The African Violet show plants or the bodybuilder at the top of their
form will never be quite that perfect again. That being said there's no
shame in not being perfect. Indeed, this is an argument against perfection.
It is enough to do your best as your natural self. Humans come in a variety
of shapes and sizes, and each is perfectly natural in their own special
way and, to my mind, although they may not be perfect for Show all are
perfect in their unforced nature.
When we were living in New York City my partner at that time was taking
my daughter to her ballet lesson when he spotted a parked car and in the
back seat was a famous singer and actress, Lena Horne. He dragged my daughter
over to the vehicle and knocked on the car window. Her security determined
he was harmless and rolled down the car window. He cried out This
is my daughter, Lena. She wants to be just like you!
Lena Horne replied calmly to my young daughter , Just be yourself,
honey. Just be yourself.
Theres a lesson in that. The highest ranks of success require great
striving but what gets you to your destination is not Just for Show but
a steady progression of just doing your job and just being yourself, just
being your own personal best.
© Sonia Brock 2017-2021